Former NFL linebacker Geno Hayes is in hospice care at his parents’ home in Georgia after battling liver disease for two years, according to multiple reports. He is 33.
"Geno's in need of prayers. He's fighting for his life," Hayes' high school football coach Frankie Carroll told the outlet. "It's tough. Geno's a fun-loving guy."
ESPN spoke to Hayes last month before he entered the hospital to discuss his condition, noting that he has been to the hospital more than 20 times in the last year.
"The first diagnosis they gave me was alcoholic cirrhosis," he said. "But when we dug in deeper, it became just chronic liver disease, because I don't drink like that. If I did drink, it was just like wine or something like that. But my body is made different. And that's what [my doctor] said -- 'Everybody's made different.'"
Hayes explained that he believes his use of non-prescription pain medications throughout his NFL career, coupled with his family history of liver disease, led to his condition.
"I didn't do like regular guys do with the Toradol shots ... I just took [Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs]," Hayes said. "I thought it was safer. But I once I got out and started doing research, I was like, 'Oh ... my body is not set up for this.'"
Hayes was drafted out of FSU in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played four seasons before signing with the Chicago Bears in 2012. The following season he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I went into a depression for literally three months ... supreme depression," Hayes told ESPN. "I wanted more to know but didn't want to be a burden."
He said he was private about his condition for a long time before deciding to speak out on it, with hopes that he could help others.
"I'm enjoying life, I'm spending more time with my kids and I really want to help people," he said. "My main goal is to just inspire, to inspire the next person, no matter what they're going through, no matter what who talks bad about them -- family, friends, social media, all of that crap -- it don't matter. You take care of you. Make sure you're straight. That's all I want to do."